UN Women urges implementation of historic global agreement to end violence against women and girls

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

UN Women Press Release

Media Contacts:
Oisika Chakrabarti, +1 646 781-4522; oisika.chakrabarti[at]unwomen.org
Hadrien Bonnaud, +1 646 781-4751; hadrien.bonnaud[at]unwomen.org
Sharon Grobeisen, +1 646 781-4753; sharon.grobeisen[at]unwomen.org

Michelle Bachelet: “UN Women stands ready to support countries to turn agreement into action”

(New York, 20 March) In the follow-up to the historic global agreement reached at the 57th Commission on the Status of Women to prevent and end violence against women and girls, UN Women today called for action to translate it into reality for women and girls globally.

UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet urged speedy implementation of the Agreed Conclusions. “The best way to honour the commitments made by Member States at the Commission is to work for implementation and accountability. We must continue moving forward, with courage, conviction and action. UN Women with its strong programmatic focus, experience on ending violence against women, and field presence in 85 countries stands ready to fully support implementation of the Agreed Conclusions,” she said.

UN Women will use the Agreed Conclusions to protect the right of women and girls to live free of fear and violence, working closely with UN Member States, UN country teams and civil society. The agreement constitutes a roadmap for prevention and response, with a total of 69 clear and concrete actions that should be taken by Governments and other stakeholders.

These form the basis to move expeditiously at the national level – including through strengthening prevention, services and data collection; improving laws and policies; expanding programmes, and committing the resources needed to make a difference.

Efforts will also be undertaken to support the implementation of commitments made by 54 Governments through the UN Women COMMIT initiative to address the pandemic through concrete national actions.

In a new global prevention effort, a non-formal curriculum on ending violence against girls, developed in collaboration with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and announced at CSW, will reach millions of young people. Through ongoing initiatives such as the Safe Cities programme, service delivery will be improved.

The Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, managed by UN Women, will continue to enhance coordination efforts across the UN system. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women will continue to provide resources to local and national initiatives.  And UN Women and UNFPA are working to define and provide critical services to survivors.

“UN Women is uniquely positioned to work with governments, civil society and UN partners to turn the Agreed Conclusions into decisive action at the country level,” said Michelle Bachelet. “This organization was founded to deliver for women and girls worldwide and is in a strong position to do so.”

Meeting on the heels of high-profile violence cases that fuelled global outrage and rising demands for justice, the 57th session of the Commission is widely hailed by governments and civil society as an historic session, especially given the lack of Agreed Conclusions in 2003, when the issue was last discussed at the Commission.

It took significant efforts and preparations, including regional meetings and a global stakeholders’ forum convened by UN Women, to deliver a global blueprint at this session. A record 133 States addressed the meeting and 6,000 NGOs pre-registered; there were more than 120 side events and 300 civil society events, and unprecedented media attention.

The final text adopted by Governments is forward-looking. The document strongly emphasizes that violence against women is a human rights violation and underlines that it is the duty of all States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights, which are universal and indivisible.

It places a strong emphasis on prevention, the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment and their full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, urging Governments to advance women’s economic empowerment, political participation, access to education and health, including sexual and reproductive health and the fulfillment of reproductive rights.

It calls special attention to the need for women’s and girls’ safety in public spaces, and for attitudinal changes through challenging gender stereotypes, and the full engagement of men and boys.

It highlights the need to strengthen legal and policy frameworks, with important provisions on ending impunity, and ensuring accountability and access to justice, as well as addressing domestic violence.  The need for adequate responses in armed conflict and post-conflict settings are also emphasized, such as ensuring that sexual violence not be included in amnesty provisions.

The document calls for coordinated multisectoral services that respect confidentiality and the safety of survivors. It emphasizes health services, both in addressing the health consequences of violence, including sexual and reproductive health, as well as an entry point to detect violence against women.

The agreement calls on States to improve data collection and analysis which is urgently needed to improve the evidence base, including in terms of risk factors, structural and underlying causes, and to better inform the development of laws, policies, and awareness-raising.

New elements include the first-time mention of the phenomenon of gender-related killings, or femicide, as well as the need to tackle phenomena such as cyber stalking and cyber bullying in regard to ICT and social media.

The document highlights the need for targeted attention to older women, women living with HIV, women human rights defenders, women with disabilities, indigenous women and other groups that face particular risks of violence.

Another important emphasis throughout the document is on the consultation and participation with stakeholders, including survivors of violence, in devising laws and policies, and also the use of information and communications technology and social media as resources for awareness-raising.

The historic 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women produced an agreement that paves the way for action to prevent and end violence against women and girls.  As Ms. Bachelet said in her closing statement, “This agreement is one step more for realizing the rights and dignity of girls and women. But we cannot stop here.

We need to do so much more. Words now need to be matched with deeds, with action.  Now is the time for implementation and accountability. We must continue moving forward, with courage, conviction and commitment.”